Obit: Ronald Cox

Obit: Ronald Cox

January 18th, 2017 in Obituaries
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Multi-faceted Engineer, Consultant, Community, and State Leader Ron “Ronnie” Cox, our beloved husband, father, and grandfather passed away unexpectedly Thursday morning, Jan. 12. He was an extraordinarily accomplished man who dedicated his life to his family. He was our hero, our inspiration, our pillar of strength, and our best friend. He was always available to us in every way imaginable; his love was constant and unconditional. He gave of himself unselfishly and completely; sharing advice and guidance. He always conducted himself with class and grace and provided a rare and distinguished example of how to live. It is impossible to relate the ways he enriched our lives. We will always remember his quick and beautiful smile, his amazing intellect, his impeccable style and bearing, and his humor. His favorite thing to do was laugh and talk, enjoy family and friends, and share wonderful meals. Ron had wide-ranging interests and passions and he shared them with everyone. People of all backgrounds sought his advice and counsel, and he was always eager and happy to help. He was artistic and loved to draw. He could do anything, it seemed, because he had so many abilities. He enjoyed creating characters and pictures, and sharing his passion with his children and grandchildren. Ron was an amazing problem solver and leader who always strived to find win-win solutions. Ron was a man who earned an impeccable reputation for brilliance and excellence and his multi-faceted career and business pursuits were marked by accomplishment. He excelled at sports and he was a passionate and skilled competitor who amazed teammates and coaches with his abilities. Perhaps most often stated was that he was “the greatest teammate anyone could ever have.” Ron and his teammates loved each other, and they won many championships together. Many of Ron’s most valuable memories are of his classmates and teammates at Brainerd Junior High and McCallie School. Ron possessed, in the eyes of his family and colleagues, a superhuman capacity for work and a unique ability to focus and achieve. He was always striving to better our lives and those of others, and he dedicated himself, totally, in that pursuit. Ron was born in Chattanooga on September 27 1943, to the late Frederick Thomas Cox and Mary Baker Cox. On June 12, 1965, he married Nancy Charline Barger (daughter of the late Colonel Dean and Martha Barger) During their marriage of 51 years, they were an extraordinary team working together to create and build a highly respected consulting business. Their three children Kathy, David, and Sherry, will always cherish our countless beautiful memories, vacations, funny jokes and stories, thousands of photographs, and every second we had with each other. Ron graduated from Brainerd Junior High in 1958, where he excelled academically and athletically. At Brainerd Jr. High, he helped lead the “Bombers” to City Championships in football, basketball, and baseball. He quarterbacked the football team, was point guard on the basketball team, and second baseman on the baseball team. During his ninth grade year he was recruited by Kentucky basketball coaching legend Adolph Rupp. An expert ball handler, Ron’s style of play was likened to that of the great Bob Cousy of the Boston Celtics. Ron also excelled in track where he set a city record in the hop, step, and jump. Ron was also named Mr. Brainerd Junior High and proudly served as president of his class. Ron continued his education at McCallie School, graduating in the Class of 1961. He was a four-sport letterman at McCallie (Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Track), where he continued to shine as a star athlete. He was second baseman on the 1961 Mid-South Champions Baseball team and helped lead the Tornadoes to tremendous success on the gridiron and basketball court. Ron and Nancy enjoyed watching their son, David (’90), compete at McCallie in football, baseball, and track, as well - never missing a game in six years. Ron greatly enjoyed his time at McCallie and continued to serve the school with work on reunion committees, advisory boards, and other capacities. Ron earned his Bachelor and Masters degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In 1970, he earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Rice University, where he held a Rice Engineering Fellowship. He completed this program in one year and ten months, a record at the time, by taking more courses than recommended. In 1978, he became a member of the first class in the Executive MBA program at Vanderbilt University and served as tutor to his classmates in calculus and economics. After joining the engineering faculty at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 1970, Ron became Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science in 1979, the youngest engineering Dean in the United States. He served in the role for 17 years, spearheading numerous partnerships and alliances with industry and government, and justifying the construction of a new engineering, computer science, and mathematics building which was completed in 2003. In 1996, Ron became Professor and holder of the Burkett Miller Chair of Excellence in Management and Technology at UTC. He was named Engineer of the Year in 1982 by the Chattanooga Engineers Club - the youngest recipient ever, being largely credited for the development of the undergraduate and graduate engineering programs at the university. In 1990, Dr. Cox was named “Engineer of the Decade” of the Tri-state region for his outstanding leadership, service, and contribution to the engineering profession and to humanity. Dr. Cox was also a widely respected consultant to private industry, serving on multiple boards and writing extensively on energy issues, business strategy, globalization, and national competitiveness. Ron also served as Deacon and Sunday School teacher at Signal Mountain Baptist Church, and was an active member in the Rotary Club and the Mountain City Club. His “lunch bunch” friends were the source of many happy moments, and he cherished their friendship and conversation. Ron always made time for his children, coaching numerous Dixie Youth Baseball teams and All-Star Teams during the 1980’s. He also coached many YMCA football and basketball teams. He is remembered as a calm and insightful coach and respected mentor who loved competition and making the games fun. Ron was an extraordinarily accomplished man who dedicated his life to his family, the City of Chattanooga, the State of Tennessee, and our country. Possessing a unique blend of drive, personality, and commitment, his career was marked by achievement. He was a Registered Professional Engineer in the U.S. and in Europe; elected Fellow, Institution of Engineers of Ireland; served as Chairman and Trustee, Tennessee Engineering Foundation; Board Member Tennessee Science and Technology Board; National President of American Society for Engineering Management; Visitation Board of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) tasked with recommending accreditation action of programs at Purdue, Duke, Yale, U.S. Naval Academy, U.C.L.A. and other universities; was a member of ASSE, ASEE, TSPE, NSPE, and SAE. He was a White House Fellow Finalist and was elected to Tau Beta Pi; Sigma Xi; Alpha Society; Sigma Chi and Golden Key. He will long be remembered for his integrity and brilliance, his capacity for building professional and personal relationships, and as a man who strove on a daily basis to improve conditions in our society for the benefit of our citizens. Surviving are his wife, Nancy Charline Barger Cox, of Signal Mountain; children, Katherine Cox Shaw (Winfred), of Chapel Hill, N.C., Ronald David Cox, of Chattanooga, Nancy “Sherry” Cox Farrell (Andrew), of Signal Mountain; grandchildren, Harrington Dean Shaw, Charles Winfred Shaw, David Pollard Shaw, Nancy Charline Cox Farrell, and Katherine Grace Cox Farrell. Visitation will be from 3 to 7 p.m., on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, at the East Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory & Florist. Funeral Services will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, at Signal Mountain Baptist Church (939 Ridgeway Ave. Signal Mountain, TN 37377) with Pastor Ron B. Perry, Sr. officiating. Burial will follow at Forest Hills Cemetery. Those who wish to make memorials may do so to Signal Mountain Baptist Church (939 Ridgeway Ave. Signal Mountain, TN 37377) or to a charity of your choice. Arrangements are by the East Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory & Florist. Please share your condolences at www.chattanoogaeastchapel.com


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